Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

CategorySocial Factors

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Is Bitcoin Safe?

Why the human side of security is critical
Bitcoin solves a lot of tough problems in very ingenious ways. Unfortunately, however, those benefits don’t tend to translate well for end users, who are not nearly as ingenious as the people developing the system. Read More ›
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Claim: Yes, you can upload your brain

Fine print: They might have to kill you first
In a recent piece, we looked at cognitive scientist Susan Schneider’s explanation as to why we couldn’t cheat death by uploading our minds to the internet. But some have made a career of marketing the idea Read More ›
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Better medicine through machine learning?

Data can be a dump or a gold mine
The biggest problem today isn’t the sheer mass of data so much as the difficulty of determining what it is worth. The answer lies, unfortunately, in the undone studies and the unreported events. Machine learning will be a much greater help when those problems are addressed. Read More ›
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AI has a wonderful plan for your life

Tech-savvy religion scholars play with reshaping society
The team is pessimistic about getting politicians on side and hopes to persuade policy analysts to convince the politicians to adopt the policies their model suggests instead. Wildman predicts, “We’re going to get them in the end.” Read More ›
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The driverless car: A bubble soon to burst?

Author says journalists too gullible about high tech
Why do we constantly hear that driverless, autonomous vehicles will soon be sharing the road with us? Wolmar blames “gullible journalists who fail to look beyond the extravagant claims of the press releases pouring out of tech companies and auto manufacturers, hailing the imminence of major developments that never seem to materialise.” Read More ›
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Attend your own funeral!

It’s easy if you upload your consciousness to the cloud, says futurist
Presumably, in Ian Pearson's future, the rich can attend their own funerals and alternate world funerals an indefinite number of times, each one numbering as many different people as he wants. Read More ›
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Big Question: Can Big Data read the minds of others?

And should Facebook scan your posts for suicidal thoughts? (It does.)

 Neurologist Robert Burton reflects at Aeon on the fact that mind reading does not really work. Most fashionable theories of mind, like the mirror neuron theory, have not really been much use: This is not to say that we have no idea of what goes on in another’s mind. The brain is a superb pattern-recogniser; we routinely correctly anticipate that others will feel grief at a funeral, joy at a child’s first birthday party, and anger when cut off on the freeway. We are right often enough to trust our belief that others generally will feel as we do. More. True, but the problem isn’t with recognizing what most people probably think; it’s with recognizing unusual but important patterns. How Read More ›

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Robot priests: And you thought “robotic religion” was just a pointed criticism… ?

You know, rote prayers, mindless gestures… Is that the way of the future for some?

Reuters announced last year that in Japan, a robot can be hired to perform Buddhist funeral rites: A Japanese company has introduced a new role for SoftBank’s humanoid robot “Pepper” – a Buddhist priest for hire at funerals. … With Japan’s population ageing and shrinking, many Buddhist priests receive less financial support from their communities, prompting some to find part-time work outside their temple duties, said Michio Inamura, Nissei’s executive adviser. The funeral robot could step in when a priest was not available, he said. It also cost less at 50,000 yen (about $450) per funeral compared to more than 240,000 yen ($2,200) for a human priest. More.   As of August 2017, the robot priest had not yet been Read More ›

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Can we cheat death by uploading ourselves as virtual AI entities?

Transhumanism is a curious blip in a science and technology culture in which it is otherwise axiomatic that humans are merely evolved animals

Cheating death is a serious goal of some transhumanists. Futurist Ray Kurzweil (now a Google innovator) calls such a digital fate the Singularity, as in his book, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. Published in 2006, it is still in the top ten in artificial intelligence and biotechnology. In 2017, he announced, 2029 is the consistent date I have predicted for when an AI will pass a valid Turing test and therefore achieve human levels of intelligence. I have set the date 2045 for the ‘Singularity’ which is when we will multiply our effective intelligence a billion fold by merging with the intelligence we have created. It sounds rather like avoiding death by becoming something that isn’t actually alive. Read More ›

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Jay Richards asks, can training for an AI future be trusted to bureaucrats?

We hear so much about how the AI revolution gobbles industrial era jobs that we don't notice the digital era jobs unfilled.

On Tuesday, entrepreneur Ivanka Trump told Wall Street Journal readers, The assembly line, energy plant and retail store have changed dramatically in the past 25 years—and the jobs have, too. Nearly 1 in 5 working Americans has a job that didn’t exist in 1980, many in technology, the fastest-growing segment across all industries. Such rapid change is one reason 6.6 million U.S. jobs are currently unfilled. More. Currently unfilled? We hear so much about how the AI revolution is gobbling industrial era jobs that the shortage of people trained for digital era jobs takes a while to register. Trump goes on to discuss new legislation to address the shortage by providing more relevant education to future jobseekers (paywall). Meanwhile, from the Read More ›

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Will AI lead to mass joblessness and social unrest?

A 2018 book by political scientist Virginia Eubanks, Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor argues that it will: “automated systems entrench social and economic inequality by design and undermine private and public welfare.” Read More ›